With India getting all decked up to begin their ICC World Cup 2019 campaign, skipper Virat Kohli will be on the verge of setting a unique record when he goes out to bat against South Africa at the Rose Bowl in Southampton, on Wednesday. Kohli has slammed a century in India’s opening games in the previous editions of Cricket World Cup 2015 and 2011, he will now aim to emulate the feat in the ongoing tournament.
If the talismanic batsman manages to reach the triple figure mark when Men in Blue lock horns against the Proteas, he might well become the only batsman to score consecutive centuries in three opening matches of his team in the mega event.
Back in ICC World Cup 2011, Kohli had notched up a score of 100 not-out against Bangladesh and became the 13th batsman to make a hundred in World cup debut. The opening match of ICC World Cup 2011, which is mostly remembered for Virender Sehwag’s heroics, also saw young Kohli’s dominance with the bat. His hundred at that match was also a glimpse of the man’s ability to perform at the bigger stages, which the world witnessed to a greater extent in later years.
Coming to bat at number four, Kohli understood his responsibility and played second fiddle to Sehwag who had already batted for 27 overs. However, as the opener got out Kohli took charge of the innings and raced towards his first World Cup ton in just 81 deliveries. In the succeeding matches, though he failed to score another century, he played according to the team’s needs and performed his duties in the most pragmatic manner.
By the time he took the field against Pakistan for India’s first game in ICC World Cup 2015, young Kohli had become “King Kohli” and was leading the batting unit of his team. With the departure of stalwarts like Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, among others, he had more than one boots to fill. However, he not only took the responsibility but effectuated it in a way that the team never felt the vacuum created by number of retirements.
Getting in the field at number three, after MS Dhoni won the toss and decided to bat first, Kohli announced his arrival in style. Partnering Shikhar Dhawan, he went on to add 128 runs before the opener departed. Joined by Raina, he continued to torment the Pakistani bowlers and reached his 22nd ODI century in the 43rd over. Riding on his hundred, India finished with a total of 300 and extended their winning streak against Pakistan at the World Cup to six matches.
On Wednesday, he will not only be leading the batting unit but the entire team. A lot will be going on in his mind this time rather than just the thought of another century. However, given his mastery at piling up runs added with a weak and injury-hit South African bowling pack, another century could well be on his way for Kohli. Also, he has always enjoyed a good bunch of success against South Africa in ODIs. In the 26 matches he has played against the Proteas, he has scored at a rate of almost 67 and notched up four hundreds.